David Ivey’s Chicago BIM-IPD Group meets every last Thursday of the month at HOK’s beautiful offices in Chicago’s Loop. Other cities have BIM-IPD groups: NYC, Seattle, San Francisco among a dozen others. But there’s something happening here on the 14th floor in the main conference room on these nights that can only be described as necessary and magical.
That’s not to say one city’s group is better than another. In the spirit of Integrated Design there is in fact a great deal of sharing of knowledge and information between the groups. Sometimes a member from one city’s group will show up at another and present what their group is up to. Case in point: Chicago’s group recently hosted special guest, Christopher Parsons, founder of Knowledge Architecture (www.knowledge-architecture.com) and the San Francisco BIM Users Group.
The typical meeting has presentations, surveys, discussions, Q and A sessions in the light and expansive conference room pictured here – it’s hard not to be inspired. And the 90 minutes fly by fast. Best of all, for an hour and a half each month, you are made to feel quintessentially relevant and in-the-know.
Headed-up by HOK’s David Ivey – an Associate and CAD and BIM Manager at HOK since 2005, a regular speaker at McGraw-Hill’s BIM and IPD panels and a leader in the ACE Mentor Program of America – Dave does a magnificent job of organizing and running these meetings. Dave’s a true firm leader-in-the-making and an inspiration to all who attend. He is completely onboard when it comes to sharing non-proprietary information with the group – much in keeping with HOK’s reputation for sharing, collaboration and transparency. It is almost impossible to attend one of his meetings and not walk away feeling smarter, more self-assured and excited to be part of a happening movement. As importantly, given that the Midwest – in comparison with the coasts – is somewhat of a latecomer to BIM and IPD, these meetings help assure that Chicago has in time caught up with his big city brethren.
Chicago BIM-IPD Group is a diverse gathering – Crate and Barrel’s John Moebes and University clients have attended, Kristine Fallon and Michael Bordenaro are regulars – made up of contractors, engineers, architects, IT specialists, firm owners, authors, trainers, educators, software resellers and consultants.
Last night, Mark Anderson, the enterprising, energetic and entertaining VP of IT for Environmental Systems Design – one of Chicago’s largest and consistently most innovative MEP consultants – spoke about ESD’s inroads into BIM. Here are some highlights from his talk:
- As it is best to start off with a pilot project, their first real Revit job happened to be the 3 million SF Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral zero waste city, with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.
- Finding that creating custom content takes a great deal of effort and time, they purchased an entire library of content – 3000 Revit fully parametric families in all to go along with their custom models
- Mark was quoted as saying: “We’re making content like crazy,” with 2-3 people devoted to it at all times.
- One key take-away from Mark’s talk is this: some design professionals complain that MEP consultants have dragged their feet when it comes to adopting and implementing BIM and the collaborative work processes enabled by it. Not the case at all, according to ESD. The software has lagged for engineers – behind architecture, structural and civil – and only of late has caught up. Not that that stopped them from taking-on the challenge and doing the hard work of change involved – though only recently has it allowed them to excel at it.
- Of 220 current employees, 60 are trained in Revit and of those perhaps 20 could be put on a project today with the full assurance that they could run with it from go. And that number is growing.
- Mark played a 3D animation of a BIM model ESD had created for Chicago’s Dirksen Building. Set to music, upon completion the movie set off a round of applause.
- An IIT student who works in the firm discovered that Navisworks has many of the same visualization features as 3D Studio Max – and so suggested that they use Navisworks not only for coordination but for visualization and animation.
- Not quite yet direct to fabrication, it became apparent, with one eye on future opportunity, growth and positioning, that ESD has several in-house special task forces dedicated to taking the technology – and work processes – to the next level.
- Mark played an informative commercial film, featuring Mark and his team, created by HP to play-up ESD’s use of their equipment.
The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A, one earnest inquiry after the other, each attendee hanging on every last word, trying to work out for herself this still mysterious process. How are we going to make it work? How are we going to make money at this? How do we best position ourselves for the future? What determines when a job is going to be a Revit job?
Perhaps it was just the thought of freezing wind and freshly falling snow that kept everyone in their seats well past 7PM on this cold winter night as Mark fielded question after question. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was instead because everyone sensed something quite magical and new was happening in this seminal and well-lit conference room above Chicago’s Loop. That, perhaps, we were really onto something here.